Tuesday, October 6, 2015

a guiding light

Tuesdays this month, I'm participating in an #educoach blog challenge, where instructional coaches share posts about the work they are doing. Thank you to Kathy Perret for getting this challenge up and running!

I'm just getting back from the Illinois Reading Council Conference and slowly coming back to Earth, leaving my inspirational high over there in Peoria, Illinois. I always leave the IRC feeling so inspired, and as I thought about inspiration, I realized that sharing inspiration with others is a great quality for an instructional coach to have!

So...who has recently inspired me?

Dave Burgess
Dave is the author of Teach Like a Pirate and is very active on Twitter, just search up his #tlap hashtag! He's an magician and a teacher, so of course that definitely puts him in the difinitive entertainer category. (Aren't all teachers entertainers?) :-)

One of his quotes, in particular, is especially inspiring for me:

So true, right? When teachers create experiences for students, when students are living in your lessons because you have taken them beyond the lecture and homework, they respond differently. They like coming to school, coming to class. They put in more effort, because they have that internal drive to participate in the experience their teacher is creating.

In order to create these experiences for kids, we have to be creative and ask the right questions. Not, "Can I do this lesson outside of my classroom?" but, "How can I do this lesson outside of my classroom?" It's so easy to answer your questions with a no, so we must ask the right questions!

Penny Kittle
Penny Kittle was another teacher-author at the IRC. I heard of her a few years ago, but it was my first time going to a session with her. She teaches high school kids and is refining how teachers think about teaching high school English. The stories she shared with us about how she makes kids readers - amazing. Take a look at this kid - on the table beside him are stacks of books he read in each of his 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade years. Obviously, Penny was his teacher when he was a senior:

"Our daily practices show students what we believe." It's so true. The time we devote to the practices in our classroom reveals our values. If we value guided reading, and study it to make those most of those 20 minute sessions with students, it's very clear to students and observers that providing specific, differentiated instruction to each learner is of value. If we provide ample time for students to read and escape into their Just Right books, children and classroom observers see that time to do the work of reading is important.

How can instructional coaches inspire others?
I'm just scratching the surface with these two, but being inspired is an important part of the work we do as coaches. How do you inspire those you work with?

I believe part of this is evident in the content we coach. I am beyond passionate about Reading and Writing Workshop. To it's heart and core, I believe in the work around these practices, so it naturally exudes from me via conversations I have with colleagues.

Another way I (hope to) inspire others is through a weekly email I send - The Literacy Scoop. I send this message out on Friday afternoons right before I leave and it includes important announcements for the coming week, but it also includes appreciations to staff for the amazing work they do with students. As a coach, I have the luxury of getting into classrooms across the building on a regular basis, but because classroom teachers can't do so as often, I want to provide a window to classrooms via this email. In addition to sharing the great work our teachers are doing each day, it always feels good to get an appreciation, so that's what it's all about!

Finally, many of our teachers Tweet what is happening in their classrooms under our school's hashtag: #tigerslearn. Be sure to check that out by searching on Twitter! It's a great way to share what you're doing each day with the teachers on your campus!

How do you inspire your colleagues?


  1. WOW! An uncommon experience, I want that!!! I'm feeling inspired, thanks!

  2. This post is full of such great ideas. Your mindset is spot on for coaching; your teachers are lucky to have you! Thanks for this!

  3. You continue to amaze me, Michelle! You're one inspiring Literacy Coach. Everything you do positively impacts the staff and students in our district. By the way, it was awesome presenting with you at the IRC! What's our next endeavor? ;) Colleen
    Literacy Loving Gals


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